Stance: Studies on the Family

Brigham Young University Student Journal

Month: February 2017

Parenting tip #10:  Love Your Kids—No Matter What

Rosen 2013 394

 

 

By Phyllis Rosen

Before writing this last article on parenting, I want to state something for the record:

I HAVE SIX WONDERFUL CHILDREN!

But I didn’t always know that. There were times during their upbringing when I wasn’t convinced they were all that wonderful. Each one, in his or her own way, caused some anxiety or fear or anger. At different stages of their lives, they were not very lovable.

But you must love them anyway, and of course, deep down you do. So how do you show that love during these difficult periods? It isn’t easy, but it’s possible. Here’s what my husband and I learned over the years:

1. Find just one positive thing to say each day.

When one of our kids was belligerent and prickly and almost impossible to interact with without getting into an argument, I prayed and prayed to know what to do. The answer was: Read the Book of Mormon.  As I read the Book of Mormon daily, something happened to my heart.   It softened.  And as it softened, I realized I needed to find something positive daily about this child.  As I mentioned positive things to him  (which were not easy to find), I found that the tension in the home decreased.

2. Let go of the things that don’t matter.  

One of our boys decided to pierce his ears. Later he grew his hair long.  Both actions were not what my husband and I wanted. However, neither action was life-threatening or had eternal consequences. We finally learned that the hair and the earrings were outward evidences of inward feelings. We decided to ignore the outward and concentrate on the inner.

3. Make home a refuge.

When one child made choices that were hard for our family to live with, a neighbor came over and gave great advice.   She said,  “No matter what, make your home the very best place to be.  Make it a safe place.  If your child leaves home, you will have less influence and less opportunity to set the example.” My husband and I decided to follow that advice. We did everything we could to make our home a place where our child felt loved, safe, and accepted.

4. Have patience.

We had another child who thought someone else—other than my husband and myself—was more qualified to give guidance and direction. This frustrated me greatly.  But a professional counselor told us to be patient and in time our child would figure out who really loved him or her, and would come back to us, the parents. And that was true.

5. Get professional help as needed.

One of our children got into trouble to the point that I could not live with the fear of what the long-term consequences might be. I finally went to a family counselor.  The result was that he validated my feelings, especially my fears. More importantly, he helped me to figure out what I could do to alleviate the fear and move in a positive direction.  We don’t have to bear every burden by ourselves. Professionals can help us get through tough times by applying their training and perspective.

6. Do all you can, then turn the rest over to Jesus Christ.

Only by turning our burdens to Jesus Christ can we get through the fear and the sorrow and the pain.   When we turn our worries over to Christ, we literally feel the burden being lifted from our shoulders.  This doesn’t mean that all the pain or sorrow or fear is gone.  But it means we know that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are aware of our situation and will guide us through it.  Turning our burden over to the Savior enables us to find joy along a difficult journey.

7. Remember that time is measured to us differently than it is measured to God.

We do not have the benefit of seeing the end from the beginning.  We can’t know whether our child will change tomorrow or in ten years.  We need to put our trust in God and know that His timing is perfect.

8. Last of all, when your child seems unlovable, remember that this is your opportunity to develop Christ-like love.

I discovered that after I had gone through trials with less-than-lovable kids, I was much more tolerant and forgiving of others. I am a better person for having gone through the hard times. Looking back, I can see Heavenly Father’s hand, not only in my children’s lives, but in my life as well.

And now I know without a doubt, I HAVE SIX WONDERFUL CHILDREN!

Valentine’s Day Ideas for Everyone in Your Life

This Valentine’s Day we bring you ideas for showing love to everyone around you. You can make this love day extra special by giving more love to everyone in your life—from your Relief Society president to your mom. Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us here at Stance!

 

Relief Society President

As the Relief Society President blesses the lives of so many people, a stunning way to show love to her is to collect a note of appreciation from each person she blesses. The notes may then be assembled into a gigantic valentine from the whole ward. The way I have seen this done was each apartment in our ward got a cardstock paper to write the notes on. The papers were then collected, cut in different shapes, and pasted on a poster board with different colored papers next to each other, as far as that was possible. The results were so nice that it was even becoming of something related to the Relief Society.

- Austin Tracy

Twin

Other people may always get the two of you confused, and you’ll get on each other’s nerves, but at the end of the day, your twin will be the one who has always (literally) been and will always be there for you. Show your love simply by listening to her or him or making the food. Laugh together about that one time you did something and your twin got so mad or that one time you two conspired together to switch places so that your parents would get back together. Talk about the time when you two went to the movies and were the only ones in the theater. Whatever you decide to do this Valentine’s Day, it’ll help the most constant person in your life— your twin—know that you love them.

– Monica Allen

Brother

Depending on age and personality, brothers can be tricky people to show love to. Mine is 16 and he doesn’t exactly live for spontaneous displays of sibling love and affection from his sister. That fact makes me thankful that I do have at least one day a year to feel justified in unabashedly showing my love for him whether he likes it or not! This Valentine’s Day I’m going to keep things simple and just send him a quick text telling him how much I love him. I mean after all, you can never tell someone you love them too many times as long as you mean it, right? A funny and cheesy (or perhaps sweet and sentimental) card containing a few carefully written favorite sibling memories is an even more thoughtful way to let a brother know you appreciate him. A little treat would be a nice accompaniment as well. As long as your brother knows you’re thinking of him, even small and simple gestures can go a long way in enriching that sibling bond. Reaching out at all counts for a lot.

-Samantha Bullock

Dad

Whether you call him “dad,” “father,” or your “old man,” you can show love to your father figure this year on Valentine’s Day. Here are three ideas:
1. Write a thank-you note, email, or text: He’ll be thrilled to hear from you and to feel your heartfelt love and appreciation. Consider relating a specific experience where following his example has brought success or happiness in your life.
2. Give him a call: He’ll love the chance to talk with you one-on-one, especially if being at college means you don’t get to see each other or talk to each other very often.
3. Ask for advice: He’ll feel flattered that you are coming to him with questions, and you’ll get some top-notch advice on whatever you ask about. The bond between you will only grow.
Best of luck to you as you show appreciation to your dad this Valentine’s Day!

-Tyler Averett

Strangers

Valentine’s Day doesn’t just have to be about loving the people we know. It can be a great opportunity to do service and show a little Christlike love. Whether it’s volunteering to help refugees, helping at a homeless center, visiting people in hospice care, or even just smiling at people as you pass them on the street, Valentine’s Day can be a day that can bring you closer to God and help other people feel God’s love as well.

-Cassy Hulse

Grandma

This year for Valentine’s Day, I want to reach out  to my grandmothers. These women have played a big role in my life, and I would love nothing more than to spend time with them next week. However, schedule conflicts don’t make that possible over these next few days. So instead, I have decided to send each of them a valentine. Reaching out doesn’t have to be big. Doing something simple can put a smile on someone’s face. I hope that my little notes will make their Valentine’s Days a bit brighter.

-Rebecca Cazanave

Grown-up Kids

Just because your children are grown and married doesn’t mean they don’t want to be loved in silly and fun ways. This year, surprise them with something new.  If they live close and have kids, show up with dinner for the kids and let the parents go out! Or invite them over for a valentine dinner complete with pink, heart-shaped pancakes with strawberries and whipped cream on top.  Another option (no matter where they live) is to write each of them a “love” letter. Tell them why they are precious to you, what great talents you see in them, or a favorite memory of a time spent with them. The key is show love to them when they aren’t expecting it.

-Phyllis Rosen

Neighbors

You may be best friends with your neighbors, or you may be practically strangers, but whatever your relationship with them, it’s always nice to show your love for the people that surround you. Give a little love this year by making a treat and ding-dong ditching it, or by cutting out hearts with nice messages on them to heart-attack their lawn. Giving service is a great way to show your love—I know that I tend to feel more loving when I step out of my comfort zone to love others.

-Cari Averett

In-Laws

During the Valentine season our thoughts of love and appreciation generally go straight for our immediate family, but what about our in-laws? In-laws also go to great lengths to make sure we feel loved and appreciated as if we were always a part of their family. Even a simple thank-you card dressed up as a valentine would mean the world to them. Give them a call along with your spouse and share your love and gratitude for all they do. Men, if you want to win some extra brownie points, you could even send your mother-in-law some flowers, chocolate, or whatever she likes!

-Elizabeth Hansen

Husband 
Many husbands go all out picking flowers and chocolates for their wives, but they definitely need some love on Valentine’s Day too. Most men will appreciate a heartfelt card. Try to list all the things you love about your hubby. Can you think of 52? If you can, take a deck of cards and cover one side in colored paper. Write one thing you love about him on each card, punch holes in one corner, and put them on a big O-ring. He’ll love reading all the reasons why you love him. Everyone says that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach… so why not make him a nice candlelit dinner at home? You won’t have to worry about fighting the crowds at a fancy restaurant. After you eat, you can cuddle up to watch a romantic movie or look through your dating and wedding pictures. Whatever you decide to do this Valentine’s Day, focus on making him feel loved and it will be a special day for both of you.

-Mckenna Clarke

Sister
For all of you out there who have a very special girl you want to show some love to, I’ve got some tips. Maybe you don’t show appreciation to her very often, but Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity to make up for that! I’m not talking about your wife, girlfriend, crush, or friend. I’m not even talking about your mom (though definitely make sure to show her some love). I’m talking about your sister! I have two sisters myself, both in high school, and this Valentine’s Day, I’m hoping to show them some appreciation. Here’s some suggestions from ideas I’ve come up with:
  • Take her out to lunch. Valentine’s Day dates usually aren’t until about dinner time anyway, so lunch is great to spend some time with her before.
  • Take her out to dinner. Neither of you have dates that night? Doesn’t mean you have to be alone. Plus, I’m not sure there’s a better people watching opportunity than dinner time on Valentine’s Day, if you’re into that kind of thing.
  • Give her a call! This might take a little coordination if you live in different time zones, but everyone can make time for a quick call. You can make it even more special by using Skype or FaceTime.
  • Write her a card! You gave your entire class a valentine in elementary school, so why not write one up with a little candy for your sister? It’s quick, easy, cheap, and she’ll love a little note. You can either mail it or send an e-card, so distance doesn’t have to be an issue.

-Austin Stutz

Roommates
Sure, Valentine’s Day is a day to show love to our family and romantic interests, but what about the people we live with? Friend or not, roommates hold a special place in our lives. After all, we share our bathrooms, our kitchen, our very home with them—and on Valentine’s Day we can share our love with them, too. Being their roommate, you have a special look into their lives and what makes them happy, so get creative and do something special! Clean the kitchen or upgrade that old, broken toaster or blender. Turn up the music and have a dance party or watch their favorite movie while eating chocolate hearts. Let them know you are grateful to have them in your life.

-Jess Olsen

Mom
Showing love to your mom on Valentine’s Day is easier when your family lives close. If you do happen to have this luxury, I suggest treating your mom to something special. Take her out to lunch or go for a long walk and talk—just the two of you. Think of all those years your mom spent changing your diapers, teaching you to walk, driving you to soccer practice, listening to your dating stories, or giving you advice on what to study, where to work, and how to find that special someone. Don’t you think you can find time to express your love for all your mom has done and continues to do for you? I am blessed to have a best friend for a mom. My mom is the first person I call when that cute guy asks me out and the first one to hear about my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Now, since I’m not from Utah and don’t have the convenience of being able to see my mom on Valentine’s Day, I put my mind to the task of finding ways to show love even from far away. Take the time to write a note to your mom expressing your appreciation for everything she has done for you, then mail it to her! Nothing will put a smile on her face more than getting a note from you in the mail. If you are looking for a last-minute idea you can send multiple text messages throughout the day or even, make a FaceTime call to her! You’d be surprised how a little thing goes a long way.

-Camille Baker

Home Teachers

There are three types of home teachers: the ones that pretend you don’t exist, the ones who visit only once a month to put a check on their to-do list, and the ones who go above and beyond their calling. Regardless of which type they are, treat your home teachers for Valentine’s Day! Make them a treat and deliver it their doors. Instead of waiting for them to ask how they can help you, ask how you can help them. Offer to make them dinner or clean their dishes. Performing acts of service is the greatest way to show love and appreciation. How will I show my love for my home teachers? I think homemade enchiladas sounds like a great idea! What will you do to show love this Valentine’s Day?

-Naomi Hurd

Parenting Tip #9: Be in the Moment

Rosen 2010 613 (1)

Suppose Queen Elizabeth showed up unexpectedly at your home.  How would you respond?

A) Invite her in but continue to watch your Netflix. (only ten minutes left!)

B) Invite her in, talk to her, but at the same time post her picture to your Instagram.

C) Invite her in, make small talk while texting your friends to tell them about her!

D) Invite her in, sit and visit without any devices.

If you had trouble picking D, it might be time for digital counseling. Most adults would never treat a guest with such poor manners. But we seem to forget that our children should also be treated with good manners.  In today’s world, many people (parents) have trouble putting away their devices and living in the moment.

Children deserve our full attention. Babies learn how to communicate by watching their parents faces. They observe normal reactions:  smiles, frowns, laughter, crying, etc. These non-verbal cues help them learn the meaning of words and actions. Language skills are linked to thinking ability, social relationships, and reading and writing. In other words, the future success of your child depends greatly on their developing good language skills.  And that depends on you being in the moment with the child—looking the child in the eye and talking directly to him or her.

Although electronic devices are responsible for much of the distraction parents have while parenting, they are not the only problem. Work, church callings, desire to play (gaming, sports), and even household chores can cause parents to miss wonderful interaction opportunities.

jpg117Think play time. Children learn valuable social skills through face-to-face games. Playing games together helps children learn turn-taking, develop motor skills, and acquire conversational skills. Participating in these games requires hands-on for both parents and children.

But even more important than developing skills, children learn what’s most important to YOU by watching where you spend your time and your attention. If you are always on your phone, they quickly learn that that’s what you care about the most. No matter how much you TELL a child “you are important,” a child senses by your actions whether you really mean that or not.

When I was writing parenting tip #8—Play with your kids, I asked my daughter if she remembers playing together.   Her answer caught me by surprise. She told me that every time she came and asked me to play with her, I did. Now, not for one minute do I think that is 100% true.   I’m sure there were many times when I was too busy to “be in the moment”. But at the same time, it must be true that I stopped whatever I was doing often enough that her perception was that I always took the time to play.

Children grow up. The day will come when the house is empty of children and you have all the time in the world to clean, work, or surf the web. But you cannot recapture the time to get down, look your child in the eye, and listen to his or her heart. Make a commitment now to be in the moment.

For those of you attached to your phones, here are some practical ideas on how to have some device free time:

1. Have certain times during the day when you do NOT access your phone except to answer calls (screen the calls, answer only important ones). This means you are not looking at emails, Instagram, texting, etc.

2. Teach your children about phone-free times. Church, meal time, driving, movies, when company comes for short visits, bedtime, etc.

3. Choose to have device-free outings. When you take your child to the zoo, to the park, etc. decide to put your phone away and just enjoy the interaction. Watch their faces as they discover new adventures and experience the world. Be in the adventure, not posting about the adventure.

Remember, the things you love the most—think children—deserve the most time.